Johnson, 28, was selected by the Falcons in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft following an exceptional college career at the University of Alabama, where he was a consensus All-American. He played in just two games for the Falcons in 2011, spending most of the season on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. Johnson told 680 The Fan in Atlanta that the injury can be a career ender for some players.
"It's a tough injury to get over, especially as an offensive lineman when you're carrying 300 pounds," Johnson said.
Johnson remained healthy for the 2012 season and played in all sixteen games with one start. His most memorable play was undoubtedly his one-yard receiving touchdown against the Saints.
Johnson was projected to be the starter at right tackle in 2013, but he suffered a devastating injury during a joint training camp practice with the Cincinnati Bengals, fracturing his left ankle and dislocating his foot. Just like that, the 2013 season was over for Johnson. The 2014 season ended early for Johnson, also, after he suffered another Lisfranc injury, this time in his right foot.
A free agent heading into the 2015 season, Johnson said he didn't expect the Falcons to re-sign him.
"Obviously, I had a feeling I wasn't going to be with the Falcons," Johnson said. "They were dealing with a lot injuries and needed to go in another direction."
After trying out for the Miami Dolphins this offseason, Johnson realized that he had to weigh the physical impact of football on his body against his desire to continue to play.
"It was one of those things where I looked myself in the mirror," Johnson said. "I was so sore for a week afterwards. My ankles were swollen. My feet were swollen. It was one of those things where you just look yourself in the mirror and say ‘I don't need this.'"
It's always unfortunate when injuries prematurely end a player's career, particularly a player who had such promise. We wish Mike Johnson the best in his retirement.